Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis has urged the government to “fix the UK’s visa process for Ukrainians” amid the ongoing Russian invasion of the country, revealing that she has pledged to host a family at Worthy Farm.
As BBC News reports, the government launched its ‘Homes For Ukraine’ scheme last month in a bid to house refugees who are caught up in the current humanitarian crisis, which is now in its sixth week.
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Each participating household is being offered £350 (tax-free), and is not expected to cover food and living costs but can do so if they wish. Over 100,000 UK citizens and organisations signed up within the first day, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling the level of support “fantastic”.
However, numerous glitches and delays in the application process have been reported since. In response, the Home Office admitted that “progress approving visas has not been good enough”.
In a statement, a spokesperson added today (April 7): “The Home Office has made changes to visa processing, the application form has been streamlined, Ukrainian passport holders can now apply online and do their biometrics checks once in the UK, and greater resource has gone into the system.”
The Home Office went on to say that the changes were now allowing the UK to “welcome people faster, while still maintaining security checks which ensure those who could pose a threat to our safety are prevented from getting here and human trafficking is addressed”.
Taking to Twitter this afternoon, Emily Eavis told her followers that she has signed up to house a Ukrainian refugee called Veronika and her family at Worthy Farm – the site that hosts Glastonbury Festival.
But Eavis said that the UK’s current visa process is “simply not working” at present and called on the government to “fix” the issues in order for Ukrainians to be able to successfully enter the UK.
She wrote: “17 days ago we were introduced to Veronika and her family, and pledged to host them here at Worthy Farm.
“Their visa applications were submitted on the same day through the Homes for Ukraine scheme, but still they have not been granted. Veronika’s family remains stuck in Kyiv.”
Eavis continued: “We need our government to take immediate action so that the many thousands of UK residents desperately trying to help people escape a warzone are actually able to do so.”
— Emily Eavis (@emilyeavis) April 7, 2022
The Guardian reports that only 4,700 visas were granted from the 32,000 ‘Homes For Ukraine’ applications that had been made up until March 31, according to Home Office figures.
Glastonbury – which returns in June following a two-year, COVID-enforced hiatus – has also pledged to donate proceeds from this year’s festival to the Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal, as well as its usual partner charities Oxfam, Wateraid and Greenpeace.
According to the United Nations, over 10million people are believed to have fled from their homes in Ukraine so far as a result of Russia’s invasion, which was ordered by President Vladimir Putin.
Around 4.3million of those have escaped to neighbouring countries while 6.5million remain inside Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross is continuing to urge the public to donate to the people of Ukraine, saying on its official website that “the humanitarian situation is increasingly dire and desperate”.